What would the world look like if we took James seriously and worked hard at putting this command into practice?
“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”James 1:19–20, CSB
There is a lot broken in the world and the things that go on can trigger anger. Some of the anger is selfish and rooted in not getting what we want when we want it. This type of anger is addressed by James later in his letter when he wrote this:
“What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”James 4:1–3, CSB
So clearly, selfish anger is wrong and should be checked before it causes more damage.
All of us would benefit by refraining from blurting out the hurtful comment as a means of venting anger. All of us would benefit if that critically attacking comment/Tweet/post would be erased and not sent.
The world would be a safer, better place if we took a collective breath and considered what we say and how we say it before the words escape our lips, or get pressed into existence on our keyboards.
But what about when the anger is justified? What about when there truly is wrong and injustice?
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, hatred and rage are still not options for a Christian. Jesus himself told us this:
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”Matthew 5:44, CSB
Jesus goes on to say that God doesn’t treat people that way, he allows good things to happen to those who are in rebellion to himself. We must do the same.
What then do we do with the anger that truly does come in response to injustice? The Apostle Paul gives us a clue in the book of Ephesians.
“Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity.”Ephesians 4:26–27, CSB
How do we experience anger without falling into sin? The only solution that I have found in my own life is to bring that anger to God in prayer. The Psalms are full of expressions of anger and frustration. By praying for those who curse us, by placing those who hurt us in God’s hands and allowing Him to deal with them, we can move from anger back to peace and joy.
But on the other hand, Paul tells us that when we give full vent to our anger, when we say things that are better left unsaid, when we intentionally hurt others with our words and actions, then we are giving the devil an opportunity to create havoc and disruption in ourselves and the people we hurt by our words and actions.
When we, who identify as Christians. vent our anger and hurt others, we are misrepresenting the one we claim to worship since He commanded us against it. This is a clear violation of the Second of the Ten Commandments.
If you are encouraged by this post or would like to make a comment, please use the comment form below to offer your feedback. If you are reading this in an email and would like to comment, you can reply to the email or click on the “Read in browser” link below to go to the web page where you can enter a comment. I enjoy hearing from you.